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TAKING THE LEAD BY LETTING GO

Reading time: 6 minutes

 

When I tell my 11 year old daughter that I did not have a smartphone at her age, simply because it was not there yet (at least not in my reach), she finds it extremely difficult to comprehend. And where nowadays I am (still) typing to find something through Google, she simply uses voice input. Why type if you can ask? Although I believe to be an experienced Internet and app user, I almost can’t follow that little girl when it comes down to the latest teen trends in mobile apps, social network sites and even the life in virtual realities. This morning she told me to be expecting “another” baby (within 9 hours exactly!). “A boy or a girl?” “That I can choose at the time of birth mom. How shall I call her?” Virtual reality. How my world has changed over the last 5 years only. Mom must be getting old ;-)

 

A fast changing corporate world forces us to constantly monitor and shift our existing leadership perspectives

The above happens not only in our personal lives, all of corporate world is changing by the nanosecond as well. New technologies combined with new generations entering the workplace force us to constantly monitor and shift our existing leadership perspectives. We simply don’t have all the answers anymore (in case we ever thought we did). Where successful leadership used to start (and maybe even ended) with managing, training and motivating the right people in your team – those working under your expertise and command – today we need to balance many more parameters to keep our much needed talent and potential on board.

 

Employer branding and employee satisfaction have become an organization-wide responsibility

Luckily in most organizations product/service marketing and employer branding now go hand in hand. Employee satisfaction is not only related to the performance or leadership style of (that) one leader anymore. Thanks to the use of social media, being an employer of choice has become an organization-wide shared responsibility. HR is now part of daily business and performance management. And above all, we have come to understand that stimulating ownership and entrepreneurship at every level is key to the bottom line success of the organization. Problem solved?

 

The biggest challenge for today’s leaders is not taking the lead but to let go

In my role as an executive coach, I see that many successful leaders are not so much struggling with the managing/controlling part of leading diverse teams in a fast changing context. Even more, their ability and competence to “take the lead” as well as the drive and result orientation they’ve been demonstrating so far is in all probability what brought them the success and position they hold today. Then what is their biggest challenge? They struggle with the part of letting go. Thanks to that same smartphone mentioned above we are now available 24/7. Ask someone that works in a global role. It has become almost impossible to be offline for even a day or a night. In this (not so virtual) reality where the pressure is high, leaders find it difficult to patiently grant their teams the ownership. To enable that entrepreneurship without interfering way before the deadline given. We like to be on top of everything. We want to stay connected and informed. And we work hard. Night and day if needed. But our people? They feel as if they are not seen as competent. Your constant interventions give them a sense of not being trusted to be able to deliver a valuable contribution and/or end-result. Not to mention you breathing down their neck in reality often only slows them down and does nothing good for your bottom line result. A leadership contradiction?

 

To let go or not. The choice is always yours

In the end, what has not changed over the years is that – in the best case scenario – when all seats are filled with competent people, we keep them aligned, motivated and empowered and lead them forward to hit the targets. Everybody happy. But when you feel as if your team lacks that ownership and lacks an entrepreneurial spirit, before judging them, take a minute to look at your own behaviour first. Knowing that we don’t empower by controlling, and that we don’t make things go faster by doing it ourselves. Knowing that often by unconsciously not granting that ownership, we not only create bottlenecks, we most probably áre the bottleneck. Not to mention we are creating a lot of unnecessary workload and stress for ourselves. So the choice is yours. If you feel overwhelmed by your current workload as a leader, you most probably are pulling too many strings. Don’t be afraid to dig some deeper. Understanding the theory of how and when to delegate is not enough. Why is it so difficult for you to let go? Why don’t you trust more? What happens if you slow down? What beliefs and previous experiences have led to this urge of yours to be in control all the time? And what can you STOP doing today to enhance the ownership and entrepreneurship in your team? What will be the benefits of that?

I am looking forward to your thoughts! Don’t be afraid to contact me if you want to have an open conversation about growing this specific area of leadership for yourself or one of your management team members.

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About the author

Sofie Varrewaere is the founder of BigFish4.me and a certified Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coach. After studying a Master in Psychological and Pedagogical Sciences, she ogled into the magical world of Recruitment, Selection and HR Services. Working for the world leader in HR, she has always been in an advisory role in relation to the larger goals of several multinational organizations. In 2013 she started her own company in International executive Coaching. Doing what she is good at, challenging others as well as herself

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